Conceptions of the Nature of Science and Technology: a Study with Children and Youths in a Non-Formal Science and Technology Education Setting

  • Geraldo W. Rocha Fernandes
  • António M. Rodrigues
  • Carlos Alberto Ferreira


This study investigated some of the aspects that characterise the understanding of the Nature of Science (NOS) and Nature of Technology (NOT) of 20 children and youths from different countries who perform scientific and technological activities in a non-formal teaching and learning setting. Data were collected using a questionnaire and semistructured interviews. A categorical instrument was developed to analyse the participants’ conceptions of the following subjects: (1) the role of the scientist, (2) NOS and (3) NOT. The results suggest that the participants had naïve conceptions of NOS that are marked by empirical and technical-instrumental views. They characterised NOT primarily as an instrumental apparatus, an application of knowledge and something important that is part of their lives. They exhibited a stereotypical understanding of the role of the scientist (development of methods, demonstration of facts, relationship with technological devices, etc.).


Conceptions Nature of science Nature of technology View of scientists Science education Non-formal education 



The authors would like to thank Marcelo Lambach for his contributions to the writing of the manuscript, the anonymous reviewers for the careful observations they made to the previous versions of the manuscript and the "Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia - FCT" for funding the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geraldo W. Rocha Fernandes
    • 1
  • António M. Rodrigues
    • 2
  • Carlos Alberto Ferreira
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciências Biológicas-DCBioUniversidade Federal dos Vales do Jequitnhonha e Mucuri–UFVJMDiamantinaBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Pedagogia, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa e UIDEF, Unidade de Investigação e Desenvolvimento em Educação e Formação, Instituto de EducaçãoUniversidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal

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